Admittedly, the many rental Altima's I have driven have been the base/rental version which I found very uninspiring....... partially due to my disdain of CVT transmissions. I'm sure the upmarket versions are much better. They do get great mileage. As far as the design language (not referring to the new version) we can agree to disagree.
As far as VW goes, I have had good luck with mine, and they have improved drastically in the reliability surveys, but admittedly they do take more maintenance than the Honda or Mazda which are probably better choices for the original poster. VW's, like other German sedans, are just more fun to drive than many Japanese sedans. Handling is different, heavier wheel, etc.... Obviously a subjective opinion and I drive a Golf based Sportwagen, not the Jetta, which has a cheaper suspension design.
FYI Consumer Reports 2015 reliability ratings put VW above Nissan. Also the 2016 J.D. Power ratings had VW above Nissan. The times, they are a changin'.